When a ship is to be loaded with a new lot of containers, the stevedores will have a new cargo plan that will tell them where the new containers are to be loaded. The containers will be grouped on the ship so that they will be easy to take off at different ports. The plan will also make sure that the weight of the containers is spread evenly across the ship.
Straddle carriers or forklifts will take the containers from the storage areas to the container crane alongside the ship.
The cargo plan will provide information that will help the drivers of the straddle carriers or forklifts to move the containers in the correct order. As soon as a container is loaded, the stevedores lock it onto either the container it is resting on or to the deck.
While containers are being loaded, the ship's crew may need to pump water out of ballast tanks to keep the weight of the ship evenly balanced.